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                 Calcutta Rescue Fund

                           Health, Education and Hope


By CRF editor, Jul 31 2019 08:07AM

“I will support Calcutta Rescue until the day I die,” said Baroness Tessa Blackstone at a retirement tea party she hosted for founder Dr Jack Preger. Resplendent in a suit, tie and shoes, for the first time in decades, Dr Jack told guests assembled at the House of Lords in London on July 4 that many years ago he had taken the baroness to visit his clinic in Nimtala on the banks of the Hooghly River, and the people living behind it in tiny shacks next to the railway line. Seeing the harsh reality of life for the poor in Kolkata, and the outstanding work Calcutta Rescue was doing to help them, made her a life-long supporter of the charity. Dr Jack said: “I don’t think anywhere in the world people are living in worse conditions than along the filthy canals and rubbish dumps of Kolkata.”

Also speaking at the event was Dr Jim Withers the founder and director of the US-based Street Medicine Institute who said that Dr Jack inspired not just his work but that of a generation of doctors and nurses working with the poorest of the poor around the world. He said: "It is impossible to measure the impact of his career in terms of the breadth of the lives saved and those inspired to service. It is equally difficult to measure the depth of the heart and soul that served the most destitute for over 40 years with humility, humor and professional excellence.”

Dr Jack paid tribute to all those who have supported Calcutta Rescue over the years, either by donating money or volunteering, and urged them to continue to back the charity’s work now that he has retired. He said: “Its is a credit to you all how much we have achieved since the beginning. It was done almost entirely with the money you have raised over so many years.”

Noting the importance of a dozen projects run by Calcutta Rescue he paid particular tribute to the charity’s street medicine programme, whose two ambulance-based clinics are now bringing healthcare into the heart of 19 slums: “It is a pride and joy, serving some of the most needy people in Kolkata. The work is unique - in the scale of it, the number of settlements we are seeing and the scope of the work.”

A live web link with the team in Kolkata allowed them to send him their best wishes for his retirement.

Many of the 150 staff have worked at Dr Jack’s side for decades and he praised their extraordinary dedication: “The staff need to be recognised. They get up at dawn, travel in to work in terrible conditions on public transport, work all day then struggle to get home at night.”

By CRF editor, May 23 2019 05:19AM

Climbing Everest is nothing compared to the metaphorical mountain that Subhajit Sana, has had to climb to run one of Calcutta Rescue’s two schools.

Subho (which means 'good') was born 30 years ago in a 10ftx10ft hut in a slum in Kolkata with no toilet.

Both his parents are illiterate and his father is an alcoholic who spent much of what little money they had on booze and cards.

He had no parental support and guidance but Subho was bright and determined, and school was his salvation.

There he found a series of teachers who recognised his potential.

He studied very hard and they gave him extra support at breaks and after school.

As a result he won a place at college where he gained a BSC majoring in physics, chemistry and maths.

He had paid his own way through university by doing three jobs - working in a factory two days a week, acting as a courier and making packages out of newspaper at home that he could sell.

And afterwards he jumped at the chance of a low paid job as a teacher at Calcutta Rescue.

Why? Because: “I love teaching and I don’t want other children to suffer like me.”

A decade on and Subho has risen to be headteacher of Tala Park School, responsible for 9 teachers and 300 students.

He is an inspirational role model for them. When it was decided a few months ago to extend the school hours into the evening to provide a place for youngsters to do their homework and receive support with it Subho volunteered to do this himself - adding an extra two and a half hours to his working day.

“Kids don’t get guidance at home. Now we provide that.” he said smiling.

On the shelf in his small, dark office is a laminated certificate which says that CR’s schools were named the most caring in West Bengal at The Telegraph School Awards for Excellence in 2018.

That is quite a thing to try to live-up-to, or even justify, but Subho is a clear demonstration of why that award is fully justified.

By CRF editor, Apr 14 2019 10:33AM

Thousands of people in Malda district, near the border with Bangladesh, will be protected from a slow, painful death from arsenic poisoning thanks to the support of charity Every Well Water Foundation (EWWF). The UK-based charity is providing funding to run filters on wells in 12 villages for the next three years.

Nine districts in West Bengal have groundwater containing arsenic above the maximum permissible level determined by the World Health Organisation. Chronic arsenic poisoning affects millions of people in the region. Symptoms include weakness, appetite and weight loss, anaemia, and damage to the nervous and cardiovascular systems. Over time many will go on to develop cancer of the skin, lungs, liver and bladder.

By CRF editor, Jan 12 2019 09:08PM

Forty years after he first opened his medical bag and started treating the poorest of the poor on the pavements of Kolkata, Calcutta Rescue founder Dr Jack Preger MBE has decided to retire at the age of 88.

In that time Dr Jack and Calcutta Rescue have helped more than 500,000 people. The British doctor is widely regarded as the grandfather of street medicine, and helped pioneer many of the practices now used to treat the poor around the globe, including work on tuberculosis, leprosy and AIDS.

Despite his age and failing eyesight, Dr Jack has continued to play an important role in guiding Calcutta Rescue. He frequently visited the clinics, where he used his wisdom and huge experience to ensure patients received the best possible care.

Dr Jack said he had great confidence in the charity’s Chief Executive, Jaydeep Chakraborty, and the management team, and appealed for people to continue to support the charity after his departure.

Dr Jack added: “I’d like to say thank you to all of the staff for making Calcutta Rescue what it is. Many have spent most of their working lives with us. I hope that tradition of kindness and respect for all those who are in our care, whether it be the children we educate, our staff or our patients, is there for as long as this organisation continues. I very much hope it will continue for many more years to come.”

Mr Chakraborty said: “Dr Jack has selflessly and quietly gone about his work of serving some of the poorest citizens in the world. Those of us who work with him have seen the manner in which he has done it and the things he has given up – he leads an almost monastic existence.

“He is one in 10 million. We are never going to have another Dr Jack. But we have Calcutta Rescue, the organisation he founded. What he has created for the people of Kolkata and West Bengal is immense, and those people still need Calcutta Rescue’s help.”

By CRF editor, Nov 12 2018 08:33PM

DOUBLE your donation and help create CR's new school!

Would you like to help us convert a ramshackled, 150-year-old house into a new school for 350 children from the slums of Kolkata?If so then we can double your online donation for this project between November 27 and December 4.

We are taking part in the annual Big Give Christmas Challenge to raise £15,000 towards the painting and repair of the 16-room property and to buy desks and other essential equipment.

Generous supporters in the UK have already pledged £3,500 to the project. But to access that money we need to raise a similar amount during the campaign week, which starts at midday on #GivingTuesday - Tuesday, November 27.

So please put the date in diary, tell your friends and family and anyone you know who might want to help.

Help us give these youngsters, who come from the most deprived backgrounds, the best possible Christmas present - as the gift of education will keep giving throughout their lives.

Thank you so much!

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